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Mashhad-Dushanbe Flight Marks Sign Of Improving Ties Between Tajikistan, Iran

The offices of Iran's Varesh airlines in Dushanbe

DUSHANBE -- An Iranian Varesh Airlines flight has landed in the Tajik capital, Dushanbe, marking the resumption of air travel between the two countries after an eight-month pause.

The airline said on June 6 that the flight, which originated in the northeastern Iranian city of Mashhad, then flew back to Iran with passengers that included members of a Tajik youth soccer team.

A rift emerged between the two Farsi-speaking nations when Iran hosted an Islamic conference in December 2015 and invited representatives from Tajikistan – including the exiled leader of the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan, Muhiddin Kabiri -- to the surprise of many Tajik officials.

Since then, Dushanbe has accused Tehran of interfering in Tajik affairs, even harking back to the civil-war era, claiming Iran was behind the killings of key Tajik political figures during that time.

Signs of an improvement in ties between the two countries were seen in March, when Tajikistan and Iran replaced their ambassadors in Tehran and Dushanbe.

The Tajik Foreign Ministry said on June 6 that Tehran had confirmed the participation of Iranian President Hassan Rohani at the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) in Dushanbe on June 14-15.

The ministry said earlier that on June 1, Tajik Foreign Minister Sirojiddin Muhriddin and his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, had signed a joint memorandum, in which they vowed to work together to counter the activities of "terrorist and extremist"